Adios, Federal Climate Change Legislation

Where have you gone, Senator Graham?

We hardly knew ye (in the Senate, anyway).  Reports indicate that Senate Democrats will be scaling back their energy legislation to a bill that addresses oil well leaks and energy efficiency, but nothing on carbon emission more generally. In many ways, the failure of comprehensive energy reform can be traced to two things: 1) health care reform taking up so much of the agenda for too long, making other comprehensive reforms less likely, and 2) the politically unpalatable nature of cap-and-trade as a central piece of the solution. A third reason is total Republican opposition, but you almost have to take that for granted with any Obama initiative.

Given the uncertainty surrounding cap-and-trade as an effective mechanism for controlling emissions, and the apparent impossibility of instituting a carbon tax, I would have preferred an approach involving strong national renewable energy standards, fees on polluters to fund energy innovation, and comprehensive transportation reform that re-prioritizes our highway/mass transit spending ratios (i.e., actually spending money on mass transit instead of highways). Those steps would have gone a long way to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and may have made more sense to voters.

In the short term, environmentalists will have to rely on EPA regulation (when and if) and state efforts like California’s. Otherwise, it’s more wait-and-see.

Reader Comments

One Reply to “Adios, Federal Climate Change Legislation”

  1. Given the failure of Congress to authorize regulation of carbon dioxide, it is quite likely that EPA’s feeble efforts to regulate in the absence of legal authorization will slowly but surely fail. The EPA’s dubious classification of carbon dioxide as a “pollutant” is just one of many fraudulent and dishonest fabrications from a political movement that is commonly known as “climate science.” Cap and trade failed because it departed from hard truth and substituted speculation, conjecture, and exaggeration for truth. This is victory for America.

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About Ethan

Ethan Elkind is the Director of the Climate Change and Business Program, with a joint appointment at UC Berkeley School of Law and UCLA School of Law. In this capacity, h…

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